Damn, Kenya Airways Knows How To Throw A Party

Earlier today I landed in Nairobi after taking Kenya Airways’ inaugural flight from New York JFK. I’ve been on my fair share of inaugural flights, though I’ve never ever ever ever ever ever (yes, those last few “evers” are needed here) seen anything like this.

Kenya’s indescribable excitement over this JFK flight

Generally when an airline launches a new route they may have gift bags or a small party at the gate, but usually that’s it. This new route from Kenya Airways is a bit different. It’s not just a big financial commitment for the company, but it’s also a massive point of national pride.

Over the past few months I’ve had at least a handful of conversations with Kenyans where they were the ones to bring up this new route with big smiles on their faces.

Kenya Airways’ Twitter is amazing

If I can’t sleep at night I look at what people are Tweeting at @KenyaAirways, because it’s just sort of amazing, endearing, and awesome all around. I especially love the number of Tweets along the lines of the following (and somehow they always know the captain’s name?):

“Amazing flight on @KenyaAirways, Captain ______ landed the plane so well.”

Similarly, a lot of Kenyans on Twitter are acting like the airline sent people to Mars based on how they’re making it sound… and that level of excitement makes me really happy!

For example, here are Tweets from one of the captains on the Nairobi to New York flight:

https://twitter.com/VinieO/status/1056633561128808449

Here are Tweets from one of the passengers:

Hell, here are Tweets from someone not even on the plane, who just wants a picture with the captain:

So, what was the experience of being on the inaugural eastbound flight like?

Departing New York on the inaugural

Keep in mind that the “real” inaugural was from Nairobi to New York, so I was flying the return inaugural. On the outbound flight was Kenya Airways’ CEO, as well as the US Ambassador to Kenya.

The ambassador was doing a direct turn back to Nairobi, and the Kenya Airways chairman took the flight back with us.

Kenya Airways’ CEO still made a point of coming to the departure gate and saying bye to everyone. He’s one of the most personable airline CEOs I’ve ever seen. He had just taken a 15 hour flight, had given speeches on both ends, and then still took the time to talk to people in the gate area and wish us a good flight. He didn’t leave JFK until the plane did.

The way he interacted with the crew was fantastic to see as well, taking pictures with them, thanking them, etc.

Once everyone was onboard, he made an announcement over the PA thanking us for choosing Kenya Airways on this flight, and apologizing that he wasn’t on the return flight, because he had just landed. Class act.

Arriving in Nairobi: OMG

I’m not even going to say much, I’m just going to let these two videos speak for themselves.

First, the water-cannon salute on arrival:

Then check out the scene when we disembarked:

I’ve seen a few people meet an inaugural flight before, but I have never seen anything like this. There were more greeters than passengers. OMG.

Bottom line

It’s great to see the level of pride that Kenya Airways takes in this new route. I’ve never in my life seen so many people so excited about an inaugural flight. Among Kenyans this almost seems to be viewed as a new chapter. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how long that chapter lasts…

Comments

  1. Why is there always typos? Because Lucky’s too busy? Because he’s too tired? Because OMAAT doesn’t have someone who just does proofread?

    Does it only require one level of approval to publish an article on OMAAT? Or is it because it’s Lucky, the article can be published right away without peer review?

  2. @Eddie, typos aren’t so big of a deal that you need to go on a tirade.

    Be like the rest of us and take it with a big mile on your face 🙂

  3. @Eddie — why is the second word in your post a typo? Or is that just poor grammar? Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  4. Cant wait to read the review. This will cut out a ton of downtime getting back to the region for future safaris.

    I only wish the timing of the flight was a bit earlier in both directions.

  5. “this new route with big miles on their faces.” – Freudian Slip for the miles and points community? Haha

  6. Awesome! Congratulations to Kenya! They were talking about this a lot too when I was there last year and again in January. It is an achievement a long time in the making and should be a source of great pride!

  7. I served in Peace Corps Kenya about 10 years ago. I still get the occasional text from my “mama” who I lived with in rural Makueni county and this flight warranted one of those texts.

  8. Kenya is a wonderful place and anyone who has ever met or interacted with a Kenyan will know they are always smiling, some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the opportunity to work and travel with.

    Congratulations to them! And they should be proud!

  9. @Eddie Your typos:
    1. “Lucky’s too busy” Lucky’s what? An apostrophe followed by an s denotes possession.
    2. “…just does proofread” this should say proofreading.
    3. “Or is it because it’s Lucky, the…” does not need a comma. A better way to phrase the sentence would have been to put the word “that” in place of the comma.
    4. You split simple sentences with a question mark that could have been joined together with a comma.

    Considering the frequency of your own errors in such a small sample, you should consider the proverb, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

  10. @Eddie, in addition to those items mentioned above, the phrase you want is “require only one level”, not “only require one level”. The restriction from “only” applies to “one level” and not to “require”. You’re welcome.

  11. Although maybe Eddie deserved to get burned the way he did, he had a point, typos are unprofessional.

  12. Flying into Nairobi on my way to a project with a medical non-profit, next week. It’s always a pleasure to go to Kenya 🙂

  13. @Eddie – sure, it’s always appropriate to complain about typos in the FREE blog you read for FREE.

    As for:
    “Does it only require one level of approval to publish an article on OMAAT? Or is it because it’s Lucky, the article can be published right away without peer review?”

    I’d imagine so, since it’s HIS blog. And “peer review”? It’s a travel blog, not a bloody medical journal.

  14. I took Kenya airways twice this summer: from Johannesburg to Nairobi overnight, and from Nairobi to Seychelles. The most eventful thing that happened was taking the flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi with First Lady of South Africa! She was only a seat away from me. I resisted taking picture of her while she slept because it would be rude! Lol. With that said, how often does one get to sit so close to a First Lady of a nation?

    I hope to take this flight from nyc to Nairobi someday… it may be sooner than I think. Just hope it doesn’t get cancel before I get a chance to take it. Just seem so odd the inaugural flight didn’t happen during the month of June (ie beginning of safari season)…..

  15. Lucky after i saw the events in Nairobi on Sunday night just before the outbound flight, i was secretly wishing that you had been on that flight to enjoy the festivities but i’m glad you got such a great welcome in Nairobi.

    Indeed this is such an event of National pride. Apparently it took over 10yrs to get approval to fly to the US. Remember even Delta had to cancel their launch to NBO less than 2wks before it was due. Kenya did alot to get their Cat.1 rating and so i can understand why this is such a huge moment for Kenya.

    I honestly can’t wait for this review.

  16. To be fair to Eddie, almost every single article I read on this site has at least one typo or mistake in it. It can be a bit irritating to read sometimes.

  17. Those complaining about typos –
    1) Yes, this is a free-to-read article!
    2) Keep in mind that Lucky just got off an 18hr marathon flight from SIN BEFORE this red-eye, and no doubt, he still wants to update us as quickly as possible.
    3) Can we keep the spirit positive? Just like the wonderful celebrations!

    Thank you Lucky for sharing this with us – what a great experience. Sure, spelling and grammar are important, but even for me – a stickler to the writing rules – I’d rather have this shared for our enjoyment and ignore the odd error. It certainly gave me a smile as I sit here writing my own articles at 11pm.

  18. Great to see this level of enthusiasm from KQ. Lucky, how does this compare to Tomorrowland on Brussels AIrlines?

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